Archive for September, 2014

Passing…Prof. Victor Ramraj

September 18, 2014

Tribute to Prof. Victor Ramraj – from the Arts Journal

Prof. Victor Ramraj
From: Ameena Gafoor, Editor. The Arts Journal

48 Eping Avenue
Bel Air Park
Georgetown, Guyana
13th September, 2014.

From Repeating Islands website.

Dear Editor,

The Arts Journal is deeply saddened at news of the passing of Professor Victor Ramraj on 25th August, 2014 in Canada.

Victor Ramraj was a dear friend and a much-admired colleague. Born on 24th October 1941 in then British Guiana, on the evergreen rice producing island of Wakenaam, Ramraj received his secondary education at St. Stanislaus College before proceeding to the University College of the West Indies (London) – now UWI Mona, Jamaica – where he gained a BA degree in English literature and won the heart of his life’s companion, Ruby.
Ramraj gained a doctorate in Canadian Literature from the University of New Brunswick before joining the University of Calgary as a Professor. During his 44 years in Canada, Ramraj never lost the common touch, returning often to his homeland to fraternize with family and friends as well as to make valuable contributions in the literary arena.

Ramraj possessed a highly sustained passion for literature and an astute critical mind. As a scholar in the literatures of emerging nations – Commonwealth Literature, Third-World Literature, International English Literature, Postcolonialism – he ensured that formerly marginalised voices were heard, understood, and given their place in the world as evidenced in his Anthology titled Concert of Voices: An Anthology of World Writing in English (1995; reprinted four times). Also to his credit is Mordecai Richler (Twayne Publishers, 1983).

An active member of the international literary community, Ramraj served in a number of capacities: as a scholar, professor, playwright, anthologist, editor, critic, judge, organizer and more. He has been chief judge of the Guyana Prize for Literature on at least two occasions; he was editor of the academic Journal, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature (based at the University of Calgary); he sat on the Editorial Board of The Arts Journal and edited Volume 2 Number 1 (2005); he was also preparing to co-edit Volume 10 Numbers 1 and 2 (2014) of The Arts Journal which he had already subtitled Encore! In recognition of the 10th anniversary of this Journal. We feel his loss keenly.

Ramraj’s work appears in countless literary Journals while he has delivered numerous addresses and lectures including his 2009 Annual Lecture to the Ghandi Society at Calgary, Canada. Many of us will not easily forget his illuminating lecture in Georgetown on the subject of Post-Modernism many years ago; and on 25 June 2014, at the Canadian High Commission in Guyana, he delighted his audience on the work of 2013 Nobel prize-winning Canadian author Alice Munro who he described as a “Fantastic Portrayer of Human Beings”. It was to be his last lecture.

Ramraj always attended the ACLALS and CACLALS Conferences, always accompanied by his charming wife, Ruby, a brilliant literary scholar in her own right. They both possessed an abiding love for the arts and culture and recognized literature as a reservoir of society’s values and beliefs, thus they contributed to the humanizing of society through their work.

Literary scholarship has suffered a telling blow with the passing of Victor Ramraj. It has lost not only a scholar of the highest repute, but also a fine human being. He evidenced the best that a person and a scholar can be. He was dedicated to his work, possessed a wry sense of humour, was supportive of scholars he met, amiable and generous as a person and graceful in his conduct. He will be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched.

The Arts Journal notes Ramraj’s outstanding contribution to the common pursuit. We extend sincere condolences to his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and other sorrowing relatives. May his Soul Rest in Peace.

Yours faithfully,
Ameena Gafoor
Editor, The Arts Journal

Condolences to family, relatives, friends and more. The international community of the literary world has lost a friend and colleague. God Bless!!

Hands that Weed…

September 17, 2014

Hands that weed…
September 16, 2014 at 4:20am
by Prof Raamaa Chandramouli

She understood that
the hands that weed also control computers.
She discerned that
letters not only have power but also
possess perfume, life and breath within.
Once knew the trick of ‘knowing,’
she realized that the world bows down
as she moved forward.
Once she understood that
life is a strategy, she learned to ‘look’ at the world
not merely with eyes but with all her limbs.
Which, the weed… which, the plant…
which, the seed…which, the sprout
which, the tree… which, the giant tree…?
Which, autumn… which, spring…
what are the transformations?
She wrote her own lessons and designed
the lesson plans too by herself.

S.t..r..e..t..c..h…! As body and mind stretch upwards
up to the end of the cosmos, one expands and liquifies…
She understood that
when one is drenched in a holy bath of tears,
one gets ‘cleansed.’
Then,
she absorbed the stars of wisdom that
silence is greater than words, that ‘silence’
is greater than silence…
When sound transforms into non-sound,
she got to know of exploding light of wisdom…

She’s a woman, isn’t she?
Hence she identifies herself
as the most unique of this creation
She discerned how crucial it is
to recognise herself much before
others did that; she comprehended that
a woman alone can gift another human to the world,
can gift another world itself, another generation too…

Earlier she’s just an average field hand.
She looked after the lands with a mother’s instinct.
She inferred that a seed…contains billion seeds…
Having identified the bonding a paper and letters share,
she graduated; she understood that earning money
is like a drop emerging as an ocean.
When it struck her that there’re no boundaries
around people and that all lines drawn can be erased,
she detected and discarded the animal scent within her;
it dawned on her that human fragrance is what human is!
She also learnt to dream and knit the dreamed dreams together into
glittering necklaces of dreams that adorn her soul.
Like a straight line that twists and turns to give itself a shape,
she finally surrendered herself to her ‘self’…sacrificed…and ceased.

Don’t the hands that can identify and separate the weeds
know how to protect the plant?
(Original kaluputeesee cheetulu published in Namaste Telangana Dt. 14 Sep 2014)
Transl. Prof Indira Babbellapati, Professor at Andhra University.  Location Vishakhapatnam Area, India Industry Education Management.

KAIETEUR FALLS : Poem by Norman Tewarie

September 12, 2014

From Guyanese Online Blog:

Norman Tewarie On September 11, 2014 at 10:10 am
Permalink | Reply KAIETEUR FALLS⊗

Oh Kaieteur! with thy gruesome splendour
When your pure placid waters you pour
Would you forever continue like this
In true eternal rainbowed bliss?

Oh Kaieteur! tucked away so far
With a height more than spectacular
So many lovers of Nature you lure
For more than an eyeful feast for sure

For if Wonders of the World they seek
Then your greatness is simply unique
Many sad, troubled hearts trod your brow
With ebbed hearts you they gladly allow

To change their problems to smaller parts
Becoming oblivious of their trustful hearts
Knowing how lesser and insignificant we are
When compared with you the Mighty Kaieteur

Your waters falling in foamy froth
Down hundreds of feet of granite earth
Engulfing spume spattered sprays
And disappearing in abysmal ways

The legends for aeons told about you
Could hardly be anything but true
For the spines your magnetic chasm thaw
Have left many minds spellbound in awe

If time can erase men from this earth
Your beauty will be of greater worth
For you standing alone, Oh Kaieteur!
Would be the handiest work of Nature

needybad4u On September 12, 2014 at 7:04 am
Permalink Enjoy reading your poem, Norman Tewarie. The rhyme, rhythm and rich imagery conjure memories of a place and time so unimaginable…”If time can erase men from this earth/Your beauty will be of greater worth/….Thank you for sharing. God Bless!!